C-3P0 (Kenner, 1995)

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2015 has been a nostalgic year for Star Wars.  For most casual fans the release of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens later this month is the catalyst for the Star Wars nostalgia trip.  For me however the waters run much deeper.  True there is the long awaited non-George Lucas directed feature film coming out in a few weeks but for me 2015 actually represents a pivotal anniversary year.  20 years ago in 1995 what was then known as the Star Wars trilogy was re-released on VHS re-mastered in THX and billed as the last time the original theatrical versions of the movies would see the light of day.  A marketing frenzy ensued which also included the rebirth of the Kenner action figure line dubbed “The Power of the Force” and rekindled my love affair with the franchise.  Prior to 1995 I “used to like Star Wars”.  After the reboot it’s never left the forefront of my mind.

Kenner’s 1995 Power of the Force figures stormed onto the scene and were quickly gobbled up by children who had become fans of the films through the THX releases and older collectors who grew up watching the movies as kids themselves.  For awhile supplies were limited as new figures were quickly snapped off of pegs.  Star Wars was a scalding hot license as grade schoolers, college kids, and 30 year old + nerds like myself now trekked from one Target to the next buying up everything Star Wars related.  After a decade of nothing really happening with Star Wars it was great to see every company under the sun promoting premiums based on the beloved trilogy.

C-3P0 was nearly impossible to find at retail when the Power of the Force figures first came out.  Rumors were abound that it was recalled.  The reality is that it simply wasn’t included in the first wave of figures released so people were searching retail outlets for a figure that wasn’t offered for sale yet.  Of course once it started showing up it became one of the most common figures ever produced in toydom.  That didn’t stop comic book shops and hobby stores of the day inflating the price and taking advantage of impatient buyers who had to have their collection complete post haste.

The Power of the Force line came out at an that tweener period in my life.  I was getting to the age where my mom said I was “too old” to be getting toys as gifts because it wouldn’t be long and I’d stop playing with them anyway.  As a result, when I asked for Star Wars figures for Christmas in 1995 I was rebuffed and didn’t receive any.  Little did my mother know that I would end up accumulating far more Star Wars figures than she could ever have dreamed at an OLDER age long after it was socially acceptable to be buying toys.  Joke’s on her!

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A friend of mine received most of the initial waves of figures for Christmas of 1995 so I logged plenty of play time with them at his house.  Adults recognized that the sculpts of these figures were ridiculous due to the exaggerated muscularity but us kids didn’t know any different.  They were Star Wars toys so we thought they were great.  C-3p0 in particular stood out because of his gold paint.  Although he didn’t have any blasters, lightsabers, or accessories in general he was more “valuable” than the rest of our toys because he was gold.  He needed to be protected like the commodity he was.

As for the toy itself, it’s accessory as billed on the cardback was “realistic metalized body”.  “Metalized” doesn’t even appear as a valid word in my spellcheck which keeps attempting to change the word to “metabolized”.  He didn’t need accessories since the only thing he ever carried around at all in any of the films was a comlink for a few scenes in Star Wars.  Or should I say A New Hope?  Or should I say Episode IV?  Whatever.  The first one.  Or should I say the first released one.  You know what I mean.  The point is that he didn’t need any accessories.  All he needed to be was his shiny gold boss self, and that he was.  The proportions on this figure aren’t quite right.  His appendages and torso seem a tad too big and his head a bit too small, but it is consistent with the other buff figures of the time.  Apparently Hasbro’s WWF figures took Hasbro/Kenner’s Star Wars figures into the weight room with them and not only put them through the ringer but introduced them to a testosterone/steroid cocktail to swell their pecs.  Why swing a lightsaber if you can clothesline Darth Vader with your pythons?

I made sure to tell my mom about how my friend who was roughly the same age as me received a slew of Star Wars toys for Christmas but that didn’t change the dialogue.  The message was clear: if you want toys henceforth its on your own dime.  Challenge accepted…

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The original C-3P0 appeared on the first “red card” line as well as the re-released “green card” with a holographic sticker.  Today the figure is extremely common on the secondary market and despite being released over 20 years ago, carded examples can be procured for less than the retail price of $4.99 from 1995.  In other words, if you missed out on this one you can have it cheap today.  If you’re hoping to get rich by selling it, you’ll be quite disappointed.

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